BERLIN- Germany is taking over the presidency of the most important international alliance of supporters of the African Sahel region.
Development Minister Svenja Schulze travelled to the Sahel Alliance’s general assembly in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott on Monday.
“I am taking over the presidency of the Sahel Alliance to show that Germany, together with its partners, is there for the region and is committed to the region,” Schulze said.
“My priorities for the Sahel Alliance are jobs, agriculture, and social security in the region.
“And preventing state-free spaces,” he added.
The 18-member Sahel Alliance was founded in 2017 by Germany, France, and the European Union (EU) to support the countries of the G5 Sahel group.
The G5 Sahel group which is Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad are threatened by severe poverty and terrorism.
So far, the alliance has spent more than 28 billion euros (30.66 billion U.S. dollars) in the region.
Germany is the fourth-largest donor behind the World Bank, France and the EU with 2.73 billion euros in 181 projects.
“The Sahel is one of the poorest regions in the world with one of the youngest populations.
“At the same time, the Sahel has become the new epicentre of Islamist terrorism and Russian influence is increasing,” Schulze explained.
The presidency would focus on projects for education and employment, the expansion of social protection and support for the communal development of water supply, hospitals, schools and markets, she said.
“By these actions, the population would notice who genuinely cares and who doesn’t. Because terrorist groups don’t lay water pipes,” said Schulze.
The Sahel stretches south of the Sahara from the Atlantic to the Red Sea.
The French-speaking Sahel states joined forces in 2014, partly to combat the threat posed by Islamists.
Armed groups, some of which have sworn allegiance to the terrorist militias Islamic State and al-Qaeda, have been overrunning the region for more than a decade. (Xinhua/NAN)